Vegetarian Lentil Soup
Sunny had an orthodontist appointment today and she got tighter elastic bands on her braces. The poor thing couldn't chew solid foods. I had to make her something that wouldn't cause any pain, and after looking through the pantry I decided to make her a bowl of hot lentil soup. She loves hot and spicy foods, so I added some leftover harissa "ice cubes" (see tips) from the freezer to the soup to give it a kick and to complement the earthy flavors of the lentils.
You'll enjoy this soup even if you haven't had recent dental work done. It's a great cure for the cool weather we've been having as well.
Yields: 6 servings3 cloves garlic, halved
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 to 1 1/2 quarts liquid (see tips), varying on desired thickness of the soup
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
1 tablespoon soy bacon bits
1 cup black daal lentils (or any other lentils such as Beluga lentils)
1 carrot, diced
2 stalks celery (or fennel bulb), diced
1-1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1-1/2 teaspoons harissa (check the tip section for the recipe)
1 Yukon potato, cut into matchsticks
1 tablespoon pecorino cheese
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 cup spinach leaves, chopped
juice of one lime
3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley (without stems), chopped
Wash the lentils. Discard any floating lentils and odd-shaped grains.
In a large pot, heat the oil. Add the garlic cloves and cook them until golden. Transfer the cloves to a plate and set aside.
In the same pot, add the potatoes and fry until golden. Transfer to a separate plate and set aside. Season with 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
In the pot, fry the onions in the oil, stirring frequently to prevent them from burning, until the color is evenly golden brown (about 5 minutes). Add the harissa. Cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add the celery, carrot and soy bacon bits. Add the tablespoon of butter. Cook for about 10 minutes.
Add 1 quart of liquid. Bring to a boil. Add the lentils, bring the liquid back to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Add the tomato paste and pecorino cheese. Cover and cook for about 20-25 minutes. Salt the water half-way through the cooking process and keep stirring every now and then so the lentils don't stick to the bottom. The lentils should be tender. Add the fried potatoes and fried garlic and cook for about 5 minutes. Reserve about 3-4 cups of the soup in a bowl for later.
Using an immersion blender (or transfer to a regular blender), lightly blend the soup. Add the reserve soup. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the soup back to a boil. Add the spinach. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add about 2 tablespoons of flat-leaf parsley leaves. Drizzle with lime juice and cover.
Garnish with flat-leaf parsley leaves and serve with grilled cheese sandwiches on the side.
I use 1 (14-ounce) can of low-sodium vegetable broth and completed the rest with filtered water.
You can top the soup with a dollop of Greek-style yogurt or crème fraîche to make it extra decadent.
1 cup of lentils will expand to a little more than 2 cups after cooking. No soaking time is required.
The flatter the onion, the sweeter it is. I always try to pick flatter-shaped yellow onions at the market. You can add a little sugar depending on the level of sweetness of the onion.
If you're health-conscious, you can omit the pecorino cheese and butter.
I usually store extra pesto or other condiments such as harissa (click on the link for the recipe) in an ice-cube tray and freeze them. I transfer the ice-cubes 3 by 3 into bags that I vacuum-seal and place back in the freezer for future use. I think it's the best way to keep the same flavor without getting freezer burn. You can store the harissa in your freezer for up to 3 months or for 2 weeks in your refrigerator.Published By: on November 5, 2009.